Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain

Daniel J. Levitin on the benefits of monotasking and daydreaming, for The New York Times

If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.
Email, too, should be done at designated times. An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news? It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages.

How To Be Polite

Paul Ford writing on Medium about politeness

Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson

Discover the extraordinary in just about everything ordinary. Join best-selling author Steven Johnson for a 6-part series that explores the power and the legacy of great ideas. Hear the stories behind the remarkable ideas that made modern life possible, the unsung heroes who brought them about and the unexpected and bizarre consequences each of these innovations triggered.

I am a big fan of Steven Johnson's writing. Pick one of his books and you'll be hooked. He has a fascinating way of translating technological stories to something everyone can understand and relate to. I'm looking forward to it. The series premieres in October on PBS and BBC and will have an accompanying book to go with it. Here is a taste of the first episode: 

In the 1880s there were 8,000 different time zones in the U.S. - 27 in Michigan and 38 in Wisconsin alone! Each of the 50 different railroads also maintained their own time. Just imagine the headache traveling caused! The new 6-part series HOW WE GOT TO NOW WITH STEVEN JOHNSON airs Wednesdays, October 15, 9-11 and October 22-November 12, 10-11 pm ET.


Intimate Computing: Making Wearable Tech More Wearable

Amy Merrick writing for The New Yorker’s Currency blog:

In the twentieth century, designers took two distinct approaches to imagining the future of fashion. The first approach tended toward metallic, geometric, quasi-robotic styles: think Pierre Cardin’s space suits of the nineteen-sixties, inspired by the first moon landing. The first generation of high-tech wearables look a lot like what those designers predicted. But the designers of the past had another vision, too, and this one could be a big, untapped market: making clothes better serve their original purpose of keeping people warm, dry, and protected. One designer, in 1939, envisioned that decades in the future women would wear an electric belt that would adapt the body to unpredictable weather changes. It’s an attractive idea for anyone who has sweltered on the subway, then spent the rest of the day shivering in an air-conditioned office. Along those lines, a group of M.I.T. graduates have designed a ninety-five-dollar dress shirt that borrows from NASA’s space suits—not the bulky styles themselves, but the technology in their materials—to store heat away from the wearer when it’s too hot outside, then return it when temperatures cool. It isn’t hard to imagine Apple using its technological prowess to weave computers right into clothes, especially if it draws on the fashion sense of Ahrendts and Paul Deneve, the former chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent, whom Apple hired last summer to focus on special projects.